Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum's Buffalo Railroad Walking Tour



View Map

How the railroad came to Buffalo Distance 0.00 miles

Buffalo residents expressed a desire for the railroad as early as the late 1880s for the transportation of livestock and goods. At the time, Buffalo was a small city only accessible by poorly maintained roads. After the railroad companies bypassed Buffalo, the town decided to build a connection to the railroad. The Buffalo Railway Company was formed in 1912 to finance the project.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Duffy's Bluff Distance 0.00 miles

Charles Duffy was chosen as the general manager for the new Buffalo Railway Company in 1912. The route was surveyed, first from Buffalo to Ucross and later extended to Clearmont. Ranches, right-of ways, canals and water rights were purchased. By the time the route was ready for construction, WWI had started. Duffy was still able to get the needed supplies, although it took him almost six years to complete the railroad. Buffalo residents questioned his ability to complete this project and called ... Read more...

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

#105 Buffalo Locomotive Distance 0.00 miles

The #105 Locomotive, now sitting in Buffalo’s George Washington Park, was bought by the railroad in 1930. The locomotive model was the Chicago Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) Class H-2, 2-6-0 no. 1175 Locomotive. The 2-6-0 meant two leading wheels on one axle, six powered and coupled driving wheels with no trailing wheels. The #105 had an 1898 Pittsburgh engine. Disabled by boiler issues in 1946, the locomotive was gradually stripped of parts to keep other engines running. After resting in a fiel... Read more...

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

#100 Buffalo Locomotive Distance 0.00 miles

Although no longer available for viewing, the #100 Locomotive, the first to bear the WY Railway name, was purchased as an obsolete 4-6-0 of unknown ancestry. The 4-6-0, first appearing in the late 1840s, represented a wheel arrangement of four leading wheels on two axles in a leading truck, six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, and no trailing wheels. It was very popular during the 19th century because it could haul heavy loads up steep grades. By 1917 the #100 was proving inade... Read more...

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

#101 Buffalo Locomotive Distance 0.00 miles

No longer available for viewing, the #101 Locomotive was a G-28 class 2-6-0 Mogul. The 2-6-0 could traverse uneven track, had 50% more adhesion than a 4-4-0, and cost less than the 4-6-0, which the #102 was. The 2-6-0 was designed as a freight engine that could haul modestly-sized trains in level grades. They were also light, which allowed them to operate on tracks with light rails and minimal ballast. Track ballast was the gravel material used to bear the load of the trains. This made them popu... Read more...

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

#102 Buffalo Locomotive Distance 0.00 miles

Purchased in 1917, #102 was an ex-Northern Pacific (NP) 4-6-0, most likely from the S class. The NP 4-6-0s were some of the last locomotives to operate on the Northern Pacific. Light-weight, they worked many branch lines on railways that newer locomotive power could not. They were mainly used as passenger engines before being replaced by the 4-6-2 engines. The #102 was also destroyed in the 1930 fire at the Roundhouse. Be sure to view the #105 nearby.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

#103 Buffalo Locomotive Distance 0.00 miles

Another ex-CB&Q, Class H-2 2-6-0, #103 was acquired in 1927 when the Buffalo Railway hit its peak. The 2-6-0 was known as the “Mogul” and more than 11,000 were built between 1860 and 1910. The #103 served as the mainstay of the railway’s operations in its last years. The fate of the #103 is unknown. Be sure to view the #105 nearby.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

#104 Buffalo Locomotive Distance 0.00 miles

#104 was an ex-CB&Q Class H-2, purchased in 1927, long after the heyday of the H-2 engines. The development of the 2-6-0s peaked in the late 1800s, so many of the engines bought by the Buffalo Railway, such as the #104, did not have superheating, piston valves, etc. The 2-8-0, with greater track adhesion, also overshadowed it when it began production in 1866. The fate of the #104 is unknown. Be sure to view the #105 nearby.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Laying the Tracks Distance 0.00 miles

When the first train came to Buffalo on February 28, 1918, the tracks proved problematic. Some of the rails were too light, the ties were too far apart, roads were too narrow, and there was too little track ballast. The first few years, there were many problems such as delays caused by cold winter storms and frozen wheels and derailments caused by hitting livestock on the tracks. Once the initial problems were fixed, the railroad operated with few incidents until the later years.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Buffalo Railway Distance 0.00 miles

The Buffalo Railway operated for almost 30 years. Its route ran for 28.6 miles. Thousands of head of cattle, millions of pounds of wool, coal, lumber, grain, and sugar beets, and many passengers moved through the railway. The capability of the business was questionable as it cost as much to ship stock from Buffalo to Clearmont as it did to ship from Clearmont to Omaha. Still the local economy prospered, jobs were plentiful, and a home construction boom occurred as a result of the railroad.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Railroad Depot (Potter's Depot) Distance 0.00 miles

The original railroad depot was built in 1918 – 1919 as a single story building with a basement, a waiting room, a caged ticket room, an express room, and a large freight room. A second story with a crew washroom and a locker room was added in 1931. The railroad tracks passed in front of and behind the depot. After the railroad closed in 1946, it became a furniture warehouse. Today, a pottery workshop, store, and home exist on the site.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Flour Mill and Electric Plant Distance 0.00 miles

The railroad headed north from the depot, along Clear Creek, traveling past the Buffalo Flour Mill and Electric Plant. The flour mill opened in 1886 and the electrical plant was added in 1888. The buildings were completely demolished in the 1980s.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Tie Hacks Distance 0.00 miles

The logging and timber industry reached its peak during the Buffalo Railway years. Lumber ties from mills in the mountains would float down to the railroad through splash dams along Clear Creek. At the re-saw mill the ties were then graded, sized, and marked. The re-saw mill site can be seen at the Mountain Plains Heritage Park on South Bypass Road.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

East Buffalo Distance 0.00 miles

East Buffalo developed because the city residents did not want the train to stop directly in Buffalo, bringing with it noise and risk of fire. A roundhouse, livestock yards, grain elevator, loading chute, coal shaft, dipping vat, set of scales, two-story tall engine house, cinder pit, bushel elevator, and spur tracks were constructed. Here the trains stopped and unloaded the incoming freight shipments while the mail and passengers were unloaded at the railroad depot on Lobban Avenue.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

The Roundhouse Distance 0.00 miles

The roundhouse was a building used to service locomotives. Outside was a wye to turn the trains around for the return to Clearmont. The original was a large, rectangular brick structure with tall arched garage doorways. Destroyed along with two locomotives and several tools in a 1930 fire, a replicated building was built nearby and was large enough to house three locomotives and heavy machinery for repairing. After the railroad closed, several businesses have occupied the roundhouse.

View Location
Presented By:
Jim Gatchell Museum

Our Partners